- Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lieberman
represents the worst of Israel's lunatic fringe, sort of a combination
Dick Cheney/John McCain/Joe Lieberman, too extremist to be entrusted with
power, but he's got it.
- On March 18, 2008 in the London Independent, Robert Fisk
headlined, "Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen
to the Middle East," saying:
- "....Israelis have exalted a man....who out-Sharons
even Ariel Sharon. A few Palestinians (said) the West will see the 'true
face' of Israel. (He's) talked of drowning Palestinians in the Dead Sea
or executing Israeli Palestinians who talked to Hamas. (His) incendiary
language (promotes) executions....drownings....hell and loyalty oaths,"
perfect for the role he's assumed, allied with Israel's most extremist
ever Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also out-Sharons Sharon, no
easy feat by any means.
- On September 20, Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar headlined,
"Freeze Lieberman," referring to his opposition to a settlement
freeze, telling Israeli Radio that his party (Yisrael Beiteinu) has enough
power to stop it and much more, including obstructing meaningful peace
- Eldar's conclusion - "There is no excuse for Netanyahu
to keep the man and his party" as part of his coalition government.
He's an embarrassment, but for that matter, so is Netanyahu and Israel's
most extremist ever Knesset, a topic earlier writing addressed.
- On August 2, 2009, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined,
"Kahane won," referring to extremist Rabbi Meir Kanane and his
racist Kach Party, banned by Israel in 1988 under a law passed to disqualify
him and his zealots. Later in 1994, after the Cave of the Patriachs massacre
(committed by Kach member Baruch Goldstein), it was the first Jewish organization
in more than 40 years to be called a "threat to security" and
- Levy said he "can rest in peace." He's been
resurrected. "His doctrine has won....Kahanism has become legitimate
in public discourse....racism and nationalism (have been transformed) into
- If Kahane ran for office today, "not only would
(he and others in his party) not be banned, (they'd) win many votes....the
ostracized is now accepted, the detestable has become the talented - that's
the slippery slope down which Israeli society has skidded over the past
- In his youth, Lieberman was a Kach party member. He "was
and is a Kahanist. The differences between Kach and Yisrael Beiteinu are
miniscule, not fundamental and certainly not a matter of morality."
- For example, Lieberman demands Israeli Arabs declare
loyalty to a "Jewish, Zionist, and democratic state," its emblems
and values, and to perform military or equivalent service as a condition
for a national identity card signifying citizenship. Kahana wanted unconditional
annulment. Lieberman wants them transfered to a "Palestinian state."
Kahane wanted them deported.
- Israel under Netanyahu/Lieberman institutionalized racism
in its worst form - potential expulsion or extermination, a "nightmare
(that's) here and now. Kahane is alive and kicking - is he ever - in the
person of his thuggish successor."
- His extremism promotes "hatred for Arabs, hatred
of democracy and the rule of law, and the stink of nationalism, racism
and bloodthirstiness. (He's) the voice of the mob, and the mob craves hatred,
vengeance and bloodshed." He's a malignancy on the body politic, a
"cancerous growth (throughout) society, (a dangerous, embarrassing)
abomination," one step removed from being Prime Minister.
- Who Is Avigdor Lieberman?
- Hebrew University Professor Yitzhak Brudny said his "model
is not very democratic. He doesn't like balancing government with checks
and balances. He wants a kind of imperial presiden(cy), an executive authority.
This is why he is dangerous."
- Hebrew University Professor Zeev Sternhell calls him
"perhaps the most dangerous politician in the history of the state
- Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform
Judaism, describes him as "outrageous, abominable, hate-filled, (and)
brimming with incitement that, if left unchecked, could lead Israel to
the gates of hell."
- David A. Harris, the American Jewish Committee's Executive
Director, says he "define(s) an entire class of Israelis as suspected
traitors," a fifth column.
- Der Spiegel's Christoph Schult called him a "virulent
racist," and for the Guardian's Daphna Baram an "arch" one.
- An unnamed Meretz party member said "If you liked
Mussolini, if you were missing Stalin, you'll love Lieberman." During
the 2009 political campaign, Meretz released an internal memo comparing
him to "Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, (Jorg) Haider in Austria, and
(Vladimir) Zhirinovsky in Russia."
- Known for racism, bullying and belligerence, Le Pen's
views were hard-right. So were Haider's for praising Nazism and Zhirinovsky's
- Even ultra-Zionist peace process critic Martin Peretz,
editor-in-chief of The New Republic, called Lieberman "neo-fascist....a
certified gangster....the Israeli equivalent of Jorg Haider."
- Others call him offensive to basic ethics and morality,
and a threat to the rule of law and democratic freedoms. In a word, he's
bad news for Israel, Palestinians, and the region.
- Lieberman's Roots and Background
- Born Evet Lvovich Lieberman in Moldova (a former Soviet
Republic) in 1958, he studied at a local agricultural institute, worked
as a nightclub bouncer, and later as a Baku, Azerbaijan broadcaster, before
moving to Israel with his parents in 1978.
- He got a Hebrew University social science degree, served
as an IDF corporal, then began a political career. In the 1980s, he helped
found the Zionist Forum for Soviet Jewry, and was also a member of the
Board of the Jerusalem Economic Corporation and Secretary of the Jerusalem
branch of Israel's "national workers union," the Histadrut Ovdim
- From 1993 - 1997, he was Director General for the Likud
party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief of staff during his
first term. In 1999, he established the far-right, ultranationalist Israel
Beiteinu Party (Israel is Our Home), the same year he became a MK. He's
also held other positions, including Minister of National Infrastructure,
Minister of Transportation, and is currently Foreign Minister and Deputy
- Across the board, his positions are over the top to put
it mildly. On September 5, he called peace with the Palestinians unattainable,
"not next year and not for the next generation....Our proposal is:
No to unilateral concessions, no to continuing the settlement freeze (a
fake moratorium, in fact, never frozen, and), yes to serious negotiations
and mutual gestures of good faith," though he offers none of his own.
- "The peace process," he said "is based
on three false basic assumptions. That the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
is the main fact of instability in the Middle East, that the conflict is
territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian
state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict."
- On the contrary, he says. Give up some land and they'll
demand more. Never mind that all of it belongs to them. For over 43 years,
Israel has been an illegal occupier, what Lieberman other Israeli politicians
omit from their rhetoric, important truths too disturbing to admit.
- Deploring peace, he says those for it "should prepare
for war and be strong." He also believes "tensions within the
Muslim world are 95 to 98 percent of all the problems of the Middle East,
(the) Israeli-Palestinian conflict account(ing) for two percent."
- He, his party, and the Netanyahu government want all
valued West Bank and Jerusalem Judaized, confining Palestinians to isolated,
resource poor cantons, surrounded by hostile settlers, free to commit violence
- Conflict for him is "about values and vision, and
is part of a world wide collision between the West or the free world, and
the radical Islamic world. Israel represents the free world, and the Palestinian
Authority and Hamas represent the Islamic radical world."
- His solution - "separation, like in the Balkans.
The best model is Cyprus: before 1974, Greeks and Turks lived together
and there was friction and terror." After separation, "we haven't
seen a peace agreement, but there is security. The same we must see in
- His racist extremism is also well known. Besides demanding
a "loyalty oath" as a condition of citizenship, he wants a separate
Palestinian entity, excluded from majority Jewish areas, what Americans
enacted 1960s civil rights legislation to ban.
- In February 2007, he said "Israel is under a dual
terrorist attack, from within and from without. And terrorism from within
is always more dangerous (than) from without." Earlier in the Knesset,
he wanted Palestinian MKs hanged as collaborators, saying:
- "World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The
heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed.
I hope this will be the fate of the (Arab MK and other) collaborators."
- In March 2002, he said:
- "I would not hesitate to send the Israeli army into
all of Area A (under PA control) for 48 hours. Destroy the foundations
of all the authority's military infrastructure and all of the police buildings,
the arsenals, all the posts of the security forces....not leav(ing) one
stone on another. Destroy everything."
- He also wanted air strikes on all Palestinian commercial
areas and other parts of its civilian economy. In 2003, when Sharon (for
political, not magnanimous, reasons) suggested 350 Palestinian prisoners
get amnesty, he responded:
- "It would be better to drown these prisoners in
the Dead Sea if possible, since that's the lowest point in the world,"
adding his willingness, as Transportation Minister, to load up busses and
take them there.
- In January 2009, he compared Cast Lead to America's 1940s
war in the Pacific, saying Gaza should be "treated like Chechnya,"
and Israel "must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States
did with the Japanese in World War II," suggesting ending it the same
way with weapons of mass destruction.
- He also believes pandering to international opinion is
a mistake, showing weakness, not strength. He's so ultranationalist and
hard-right, many call him fascist. Under investigation for alleged fraud,
accepting a bribe, money laundering, embezzlement, and obstruction of justice,
others say he's corrupt. In addition, on May 24, 2010, Israeli police recommended
indicting him for Breach of Trust for receiving classified information
about his criminal investigation.
- Earlier, on September 24, 2001, in Jerusalem District
Court, he admitted attacking a 12-year old boy in December 1999 in the
Nokdim settlement who'd hit his son. Charged with assaulting and threatening
him, he was convicted, but copped a plea to pay a fine and avoid harsher
- Jamal Zahalka, an Arab MK Balad Party head, says Israel
lurched to the right after Yitzhak Rabin's 1995 assassination. The 2000
Camp David failure, followed by the second Intifada, Hamas' January 2006
election, the Lebanon summer 2006 war, and Cast Lead solidified hardline
views. "Lieberman didn't suddenly appear like Minerva from the head
of Jupiter. He rode the wave and he's not alone."
- Hassan Jabareen, founder and director of the Legal Center
for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, agrees, saying:
- "He didn't establish racism in Israel....This product
wasn't shaped by him. He just got the fruits of the others," using
them for his own advantage. Israel is in crisis, he believes, caused by
a lurch to the right. "They try to suppress our identity. But the
state won't be more Jewish if we stop commemorating the Nakba (or) stop
criticizing Zionism. When segregation becomes ideology, (it) has only one
place to be translated - (into) law. Here in Israel, segregation (has become)
ideology. The Jews want to live alone without Arabs."
- Lieberman is their most prominent spokesman. He's not
a traditional "Greater Israel" right-winger. He's more pragmatic,
opportunist, and secular, but unbending in his views like Netanyahu. As
long as they're in power, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs face persecution
of the worst kind short of total expulsion or outright extermination. But
those possibilities can't be ruled out.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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